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Full text of "My Country And My People"

LITERARY    LIFE                       231

thought coloured with emotion, and the Chinese think always
with emotion, and rarely with their analytical reason. It is no
mere accident that the Chinese regard the belly as the seat of
all their scholarship and learning, as may be seen in such
expressions, "a bellyful of essays'* or "of scholarship." Now
Western psychologists have proved the belly to be the seat of
our emotions, and as no one thinks completely without emotion,
I am ready to believe that we think with the belly as well as
with the head. The more emotional the type of thinking, the
more are the intestines responsible for one's thoughts. What
Isadora Duncan said about women's thoughts originating in
the abdomen and travelling upward, while men's thoughts
originate in the head and travel downward, is true of the
Chinese. This corroborates my theory about the femininity of
the Chinese mind (Chapter III). Whereas we say in English
that a man "ransacks his brain" for ideas during a composition,
we say in Chinese that he "ransacks his dry intestines'* for a
good line of poetry or prose. The poet Su Tungp'o once asked
his three concubines after dinner what his belly contained.
The cleverest one, Ch'aoytin, replied that he had "a bellyful
of unseasonable thoughts." The Chinese can write good poetry
because they think with their intestines.

Further, there is a relation between Chinese language and
poetry. Poetry should be crisp, and the Chinese language is
crisp. Poetry should work by suggestion, and the Chinese
language is fiill of contractions which say more than what the
words mean. Poetry should express ideas by concrete imagery,
and the Chinese language revels in word-imagery. Finally,
the Chinese language, with its clear-cut tones and its lack of
final consonants, retains a sonorous singing quality which has
no parallel in non-tonal languages, Chinese prosody is based
on the balance of tonal values, as English poetry is based
on accent. The four tones are divided into two groups: the
"soft" tones (called p'ing], long and theoretically even but
really circumflex, and the "hard" tones (called tsek], which
consist of acute, grave and abrupt tones, the last theoretically
ending inp, t, &*s, which have disappeared in modern mandarin.
The Chinese ear is trained to sense the rhythm and alternation
of soft and hard tones. This tonal rhythm is observed even in